New York City transplant Shay Collins is apprehensive about returning to California for her brother’s wedding. She knows she’ll cross paths with her ex-husband, the drunk, and Jason, her secret high school flame and brother’s best man, and she’s excited to see her dad, her rock, but facing her manipulative mother again is her biggest fear. True to form, Mom’s got her nose in everyone’s business, but when her brother’s ex-girlfriend comes to town, Shay learns the depths of her mother’s evil doings, and from there, it only gets worse as more lies are revealed. The wedding is off, her drunk ex is hospitalized after crashing his car, and Jason, the sweet man that he is, can’t help her put out all the fires, but when her dad dies suddenly, one final betrayal comes to light, and that one is unforgivable. Through it all, Jason stands beside her, and the flames grow higher.
When Shay got home, the house was dark. Inside, she heard the soft hum of the TV. She expected to find her dad asleep on the couch, but when she entered the living room, she saw Jason sitting there, holding a glass of soda.
“Hey, why are you still here?”
He stood, the gentleman that he was. “Arthur called me, told me you were upset when you left, so I came back to make sure you were okay.”
She gave him a warm smile. This was a reason she loved him. If only she had the nerve to tell him.
“I'm feeling much better now. Where are my parents?”
“Your dad thought it was best to give you and your mom some space for a while, so he took her out to dinner and a movie.”
She chuckled. “He always knew how to contain the fire.”
Jason motioned to the couch. “Feel like watching a movie?”
“What should we watch?”
“How about Saw?” She liked the idea of being scared and cuddling up next to him.
“Yep.” She selected the movie from the bookshelf and popped it into the DVD player. Then she sat down with Jason and scooted close to him.
During the movie, she used some of the gory scenes to her advantage by screaming and hiding her face in his chest. He laughed and put his arm around her, his eyes never leaving the screen.
Shay, on the other hand, took the moment to look up at the man she always loved and longed to kiss.
Jason waved his hand in front of her face. “Hello? Shay, did you hear me?”
“Huh? Sorry. What?”
He laughed. “I should get going.”
“The movie isn't even over yet.”
“You’re zoning out. It’s been a long day for you.”
“Okay. Thanks for looking out for me.”
“Of course.” He walked to the front door. “See you later.”
“Bye. Drive safe.” She plopped down in front of the TV again.
Shortly after he left, her parents walked in.
“How was dinner?” she called out.
“Delicious.” Her father patted his stomach. “If you’ll excuse me, though, I’m going to head upstairs.”
“I’ll be up in a few minutes,” Janine said.
Arthur was already halfway up the stairs when Janine walked into the living room and offered a brown paper bag to Shay. “A peace offering.”
Shay opened the bag to find a piece of chocolate cream pie, her favorite dessert from the Red Oak Diner. “Thank you.”
“Believe it or not, Shay, I don’t enjoy fighting with you.”
“We can try.”
The corners of Janine’s mouth twitched to form a small smile. “Okay. Good night.”
Shay took her piece of pie into the kitchen and grabbed a fork. Maybe this weekend wouldn’t be so bad, after all.
Review for California Betrayal